This text is a collection of examples of research, all concerned in some way with nursing or the study of health anc community care. It illustrates the kind of research that can be done by a small team or a single researcher, without large-scale research grants. The editors have selected papers which sho a great diversity of approaches: differing emphasis on description or explanation, different degrees of structure in design and different appeals to the authority of science ro the authenticity of empathic exploration. They show the limitations typical of small scale projects carried out with limited resources and the experience of applied research as it occurs in practice, as opposed to how it tends to look when discussed in textbooks. The papers have been organized into three sections representing three distinct types of social science research - "observing and participating", "taking to people and asking questions" and "controlled trials and comparisons". Each section is provided with an editorial introduction.